News Article

Iwata Reveals How Nintendo Developed The Early Prototype For Wii U

Posted by Andy Green

Simply strap two Wii consoles together

With the immense success of the Wii, the folks at Nintendo certainly had their work cut out when developing its successor. It was around 2009 - with the Wii well into its third year of service - that Nintendo’s top men got around a table and started to discuss what their next move would be.

The first task was overcoming the shortcomings of the Wii, finding out what its weaknesses were and how they could be improved. It was felt that the Wii had become a secondary accessory to the television, rather than being a standalone device in its own right, and they quickly got to work trying to find a way to combat this issue.

Ideas pinged back and forth across the table until a very interesting one emerged: a games console that offered a controller with a difference: one with a second screen. Naturally once an idea is thought of it needs to be made into a working prototype, something that was an issue for the company in 2009. Back then of course, tablets were in their infancy; Apple’s iPad hadn't yet been released and there were few other companies who had developed one that could imitate the 6.2-inch screen of the GamePad.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata revealed the team solved this problem by connecting two Wii consoles together and having them work as one single device. One Wii delivered graphics for the main television screen while the other showed what the GamePad screen would see:

We have a team of people who are good at handicraft and they just go ahead and make these things. We try to imagine that if we make this hardware, this is what it should be like and we try it out.

Everyone here is really used to making games for the Wii, so we can make a lot of very different games very fast. After you try dozens of different games, you get a good feeling or good response with a few of them.

It seems the team got together and made a selection of mini-games, experimenting with each one to see just what two-screen home console gaming could offer. Iwata revealed that these early games developed using the dual Wii (something we’re affectionately calling TWiinrova) served as the basis for what is now Nintendo Land.

Iwata explained that Nintendo did something similar when developing the Nintendo DS. Two screen technology was very rare at the time, especially one with a touch screen, therefore Shigeru Miyamoto made fun little games on PDA devices to get a better idea of how dual screen gaming would feel and what it could offer to the gamer.

Who knows what ideas Nintendo will cook up next time they get around that table!

[via blogs.wsj.com]

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User Comments (36)

DarkNinja9

#2

DarkNinja9 said:

lol wow i could just imagine seeing that prototype in action and trying to come up with ideas for games and how to go about it :o

Tsuchiya

#8

Tsuchiya said:

I think when Sony and Microsoft catch up, the power and tech of the next batch of consoles will start to level out. As much as some people would like consoles with 16 cores etc, It most likely won't happen. The economy won't allow it. As long as corporations want to make money, innovation will have to play much more of a focused role should a company want to stay on top. Should the big 3 set out to constantly out tech each other, there will be casualties.

Graphical output by home consoles will be almost indistinguishable in a few years anyway so we need the Nintendo's and now, the OUYA's of this world to keep everything fresh and to keep gaming moving forward in great big strides.
:D

RCMADIAX

#9

RCMADIAX said:

@Tsuchiya I expect Sony and Microsofts new consoles to deliver some type of 4K 3D output, which in turn would require a beast of a machine to pull off. I know 4K TVs are expensive now but alot can happen in a few years.

6ch6ris6

#11

6ch6ris6 said:

brilliant !

interesting that the idea for a touchscreen on the controller came before apple released it's ipad.

Hokori

#12

Hokori said:

@6ch6ris6 IKR also a lot of the features seem to be in iPads these days, remember when Nintendo showed off its NFC at E3 2011? Well now apple has a similar thing in iPads. Place a toy on the iPad to play a game

GamecubeMan

#13

GamecubeMan said:

Wow some of the users that were tolling actually were serious.
Do you guys know what the 4DS is gonna look like :O

MAB

#14

MAB said:

@GamecubeDude Yeah Iwata logic tells me it will be 10 Donkey Kong Game n Watch devices glued together and plugs directly into your eyes :P

fortius54

#16

fortius54 said:

@Tsuchiya I have to agree with you on this. Microsoft and Sony can not afford to step out on a limb with there next console. Microsoft stock is hovering around its 52 week low, and Sony had a horrible year last year despite the success of the PS3. Nintendo can get creative with their system because they are cash rich right now. The new technology is way to expensive at the moment, and I can't see that changing before the end of next year when the new systems are supposed to hit.

Mk_II

#18

Mk_II said:

Thing is... MS and Sony have nowhere to go at the moment. 4K video output? Nobody can watch it. More processing power? Not really needed, most games dont even utilise the current gen to the max and Sony is not going to fork out a few billion for a new processor again.

OracleOfTruth

#19

OracleOfTruth said:

I find it fascinating how Nintendo was able to bypass its lack of necessary technology by ingenious use of what was on of hand. Very creative. Also, the name TWiinrova, very clever. :)

GameLord08

#20

GameLord08 said:

@rcmadiax: Did you not learn anything from the start of the current generation? A premature push of non-standardised, extensively-upgraded, costly technology is not good for the industry.

WingedSnagret

#21

WingedSnagret said:

It's confirmed, LGM is psychic! Also I couldn't help but notice, Wii on Wii. Yeah let your gutter mind wander on that one...

NintyMan

#24

NintyMan said:

Wii U, double the fun for U.

But, seriously, it's cool that Nintendo was going with the tablet when only Apple was going to do it and it was still fairly new. The goal for any successor to a console is to be better than the one before.

GameLord08

#25

GameLord08 said:

@grimbledoo: No, @Aviator's saying that 6ch6ris6 skipped the obvious existence of the DS in favour of the iPad, for the sake of claiming Nintendo innovative enough to introduce the prospect of touch-screen gaming - when in reality, the introduction of the Wii U and its controller is nothing new nor innovative. It's intuitive, at most.

TheRealThanos

#27

TheRealThanos said:

@rcmadiax

Ehm, not really.
In one simple word: NO.
You EXPECT? Well, then you better EXPECT to be disappointed...
There are already quite a few people with a lot more knowledge or insights into both TV and console tech then either you or me predicting how things are going to pan out, and as for 4K televisions, the current predictions by professional business analysts are that even as late as 2017 the worldwide market penetration will still be only as low as 0,8%:
http://www.isuppli.com/Display-Materials-and-Systems/News/Pages/4K-Televisions-to-See-Marginal-Share-of-LCD-TV-Market-Through-2017.aspx
Looking at the market penetration of 3D TV's you also don't see a HUGE user base, even though they're at least somewhat more accepted.
I'm not a business analyst, but I am a sales and marketing professional and have been for almost 10 years now and I don't see 4K televisions dropping in price that fast for consoles to be able to benefit from that, so there's ABSOLUTELY no use in manufacturing a 4k console before 2017/2018.
And the rumor about the chip set in the as good as final dev kits of the PS4 and Xbox720 (ridiculous name by the way) are almost close to being confirmed:
PS4 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqE1-5ccZCs
Xbox 720 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uva-Nn2Bz7U (and latest rumors for Xbox720 debunked: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3nvfOfqbkA )
Besides that, the price of the console would become way too high if they would put 4k tech inside, so only richer consumers would be able to buy it in this economy, making sales non-profitable worldwide, and that is something that Microsoft, but especially Sony simply can't afford to let happen:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBcG8_zjZW8
This clip collects the latest rumors for PS4 (and although this clip does include mentions of 4K tech, it is still far from confirmed):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyzsB14AK4U
The thing however, is that if they do indeed follow up on using 4K tech, then multi-platform games will be cheaper to make on both Wii U and the next Xbox and Sony will once again get lesser ports regardless of having the most powerful console again, which they (arguably) also had this generation and ONLY platform specific titles will benefit from the hardware.
And they will probably also want to make the PS4 last 10 years again, same as the plan for the PS3, especially because of what I explained earlier about market penetration of 4K TV's, so the first 2 generations of games coming out on PS4 won't even be able to fully make use of the supposed tech because of them having to be displayed on 'mere' 1080p TV's...

Zombie_Barioth

#28

Zombie_Barioth said:

Leave it to Nintendo to come up with something like that to develop their console, an almost Bones esque experiment.

The thing Microsoft and Sony need to focus on are fixing the problems they had with this gen namely Ram, affordability, and ease of programing, not pushing non-standard tech and going all Tim Taylor on us.

ThreadShadow

#29

ThreadShadow said:

I hope the Wii U will support local (offline) system link (LAN) between two Wii U systems. I see CoD:BO2 supports it on every system but the Wii U version. : (

Can two connect through Ethernet cable and/or wirelessly. I hope there is support for this.

GameLord08

#30

GameLord08 said:

@Zombie_Barioth: That's essentially what Nintendo have done for you with the Wii U, alongside its resourcefulness in design. Its RAM is around double (or more than double) that of the PS3/Xbox 360 (which is what makes Rayman Legends so alluring visually - better textures, shaders, draw distances etc.), it's an easily-accessible platform with a modern development environment from what I've heard developers (indies in particular) say to me, and it is indeed affordable, both developer- and consumer-wise.

Zombie_Barioth

#31

Zombie_Barioth said:

@GamerLord08: I'm very aware of that just as we all are, I'm just talking about all the "OMG, PS$ & Xbox720 is gonna blow Wii U outta the water, its gonna be the Wii all over again" Bull people keep spewing.

I don't think anyone needs a reminder about the mistakes that were made this gen, and provides plenty of proof as to why Sony and Microsoft won't be going Tim "tool man" Taylor this time around.

AVahne

#32

AVahne said:

@rcmadiax
4K is really asking for a lot. Not only are 4K TVs expensive and pretty uncommon at the moment, they're also pretty unnecessary unless you're planning on buying a really big one. Besides, Sony's in a ditch right now, they would really have to love losing money to make a 4K capable console. The current rumored specs for PS4 don't help your hopes either, but then again they're rumors.

AVahne

#33

AVahne said:

@GameLord08
According to Shin'en, the RAM seems to be pretty fast as well. I would wonder if it's the same FCRAM inside the 3DS, though I think that might be too expensive.

ecco6t9

#34

ecco6t9 said:

A major leap with the PS4/720 would kill one of the two companies and take out several 3rd parties with it.

GameLord08

#35

GameLord08 said:

@Zombie_Barioth: Indeed, that's something I've repeated countless times. The current model of game development is clearly unsustainable as it is, and people want to worsen it? This time, the industry will certainly crash on us if it begins this way again.

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